LinkedIn is one of the most prolific online networking platforms out there; it’s been around longer than most social media sites and hosts over 600 million users. As a result, LinkedIn is one of the most beneficial tools for anyone looking to make it in their industry or connect with their contemporaries. If you’re a recent graduate, industry pro, or even an IT recruiter, a LinkedIn profile can help you take your professional network to a new level. This article will go over all the reasons you should create a profile and begin connecting, while also listing some tips to get the most out of your profile.1: You Can Build A Powerful NetworkBuilding and maintaining a professional network is invaluable to any professional career. However, in the past, maintaining this network was extremely difficult; through mountains of business cards, Rolodexes of outdated contacts, and often unused address books, keeping in touch with other business professionals was a job in and of itself. LinkedIn has made this job considerably more manageable, as you can quickly contact other industry members, easily communicate with them, receive updates from them, and join large communities to make new contacts.Not only does this allow you to have a more extensive and more interactive network, but it also opens you up to new individuals that you would have otherwise never met. This improved network is especially valuable for IT recruiters; as it both allows you to maintain up to date information on all your current clients, while also allowing you to find many more through effective networking and research.The best way to get the most out of your network is to be active; try to log in every day, join and interact with communities and discussions, and connect with large amounts of other industry members.2: LinkedIn Can Connect You To Recruiters And Hiring ManagersAccording to recent studies, a whopping 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn. So, if you are searching for a new position, looking to find a job out of college, or improving your network with IT recruiter contacts (which is always a good idea!), creating a LinkedIn profile should be a priority. This is even more important for IT recruiters, as LinkedIn is one of the largest sources of talented online candidates available.Getting in touch with recruiters and hiring managers on LinkedIn is all about presentation; having a professional, informative, and well-put-together profile is the first step. Then you will need to research some effective keywords associated with your industry and add them to your profile summary and experience section. Utilizing these keywords will help your profile appear when recruiters search terms or phrases related to your industry.3: It Allows You To Research CompaniesMost companies and their respective team members have LinkedIn pages and profiles. These companies will often post upcoming events, highlight employees, release regular updates, and discuss current industry topics. By browsing the company’s page and its team members’ profiles, you can get a deeper understanding of their work culture and gain valuable information for interviews.Researching companies is relatively straightforward; however, you should be cautious before interacting with them or their employees. Instead of directly reaching out to them, join discussions they participate in; this way, you can introduce yourself or appear on their radar more naturally. But, when in doubt, merely reading up on a potential employer is usually enough to get an edge in an interview or help you better tailor your CV and cover letter for an application.4: It Acts As A Job Board And Helps You Keep In Tune To Job OpeningsThis may surprise those who have not used LinkedIn for a while, but they have a job board. Companies can post openings and positions through the social media site; even better, you can sign up for alerts focused around industry keywords, letting you know when companies post jobs in your field. Also, following companies you are interested in provides notifications on their openings, and you can directly apply to these positions through LinkedIn. If you’re willing to pay for their premium account, you can also take advantage of salary insights, get details on people who view your profile, and get insights on other applicants for job postings.Besides paying for a premium account, the most effective way to utilize these facets of LinkedIn is to research and follow industry keywords. To do so, start by doing frequent searches for industry keywords, then find businesses that have openings through those keywords, you can then, in turn, follow those businesses for future openings; this way, you can keep up with more potential opportunities and businesses in your fields, giving a wide breadth of options.5: You Can Establish Yourself As A Professional by ContributingFrequently contributing to industry discussion does more than get you in contact with contemporaries; it also allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. By frequently communicating through LinkedIn in a meaningful and professional way, like sharing articles, insights, and industry knowledge, you can build a robust online presence and brand. This professionalism and brand can make you highly appealing to IT recruiters, hiring managers, and other members of your field.The best way to take advantage of this process is to thoroughly research any topic you wish to discuss; you have to have the industry chops and information to make any online statement truly valuable. So it’s always best to research first and speak second. Then, to get the most bang for your buck, utilize endorsement and recommendations. These sound similar but are, in reality, two different means of supporting your profile. Endorsements are when users acknowledge your skill in a particular field, and recommendations are uniquely written statements from other users espousing your expertise or abilities. Anyone can endorse someone at any time; however, creating a recommendation takes time and effort, giving them extra weight. If you get into a nice dialog online where you’ve shared valuable information, it never hurts to ask for either.